Persephone

Persephone's namesake was abducted by Hades to the Underworld.  Hades tricked Persephone into eating pomegranate seeds, which bound her to the Underworld forever.  Being the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of grain and fertility, the time that Persephone is in the Underworld, nothing on the earth can grow, and thus winter begins.

Persephone was found wondering the Lexington streets by a volunteer at the Humane Society.  One of our students saw Persephone on a television commercial, and Alice Schaff and I went to pick her up.  Unfortunately, Persephone was not well cared for: major burns, missing spines, and a  severe calcium deficiency.  The vet thinks with care, Persephone will be able to live a normal life.  We are so excited to have a new iguana, even if she is one-fifth the size of Charon.

Warning

Although this is a short How To on Iguanas, it is not the full story.  Iguanas are not easy to care for and are not good pets for children.  If you are thinking of bringing an iguana home, please read this 80 page document on their care.  There are many easier, more friendly, first-time reptiles that I would recommend over an iguana.

Habitat

Green Iguanas are arboreal lizards; they inhabit the Tropical rain forests of South and Central America.  In captivity adult Iguana's require an enclosure that is at least 6 feet by 5 feet by 4 feet, but more space is always better when possible.  Iguanas require unfiltered sunlight, but a UVB light bulb can be used for 12 hours a day.  These bulbs must be replaced every 6-9 months.  The enclosure should be 88-92 degrees for 12 hours a day with night time drops to 70 degrees.  Be sure to use a digital thermometer to determine the enclosure's temperature. Do not use a hot rock because they can burn your pet. Iguanas require moderately high humidity levels; misting the cage or iguana is the easiest way to achieve this.

In the enclosure should be:
1. a hiding place such as a half log or box
2. several branches for climbing and basking
3. a water bath large enough for the iguana to bath and swim
4. a non cedar based bedding, such as butcher paper or reptile astroturf.

Diet

Contrary to popular belief, Iguanas are vegetarians, requiring large leafy green vegetables (dandelion greens, collards, mustard greens) and a helping of the salad recipe below.  They should be fed in the morning to help them digest their food during the warmest part of the day.  Iguanas drink water and should be provided fresh drinking water at all times.

Basic Salad Recipe: use a food processor to make 4 cups
1/2 cup shredded green beans
1/2 cup shredded squash (baby food may be used in emergency)
1/2 cup alfalfa pellets
1 medium parsnip (or cooked lima beans during off season)
1/4 cup minced figs
pinch of vitamin supplement

Life Expectancy

10-12 year, 20 if well cared for.

Health Concerns

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).  Signs are swollen limbs, receding jaws, dragging of limbs, spongy areas around the mouth, deformed bones and twisted lumpy side.  Proper diet, UVB lighting, and calcium prevent this disease from occurring.  

References

Are you prepared to own an Iguana? Green Iguana Society. 26 April 2009.

Food and Feeding.   Green Iguana Society.  26 April 2009.

Kaplan, Melissa. Green Iguana Care Collection.   Herp Care Collection. 26 April 2009.

 

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